Ana Balthazar, a health promotion major with minors in both global health and disaster management, has relished the opportunities offered through the College of Public Health to gain hands-on experience in the field while exploring different aspects of public health.
Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion (BSHP), Global Health and Disaster Management Minors
What attracted you to a degree and/or certificate in public health?
I have always been attracted to the health field, and for some time, I actually wanted to attend medical school. However, as I explored different opportunities I came across public health and was very attracted to the idea of working to improve population health and working on a larger scale. Furthermore, the programs available through the College of Public Health, specifically the global health and disaster management minors, allowed me to explore different aspects of public health. The faculty’s interest in helping students succeed and giving us practical experience also drew me to the program.
Why did you choose your particular concentration?
I chose to focus on health promotion because it offered me a range of program development trainings and hard skills. Health promotion is an incredibly hands-on major, and we are encouraged to go out into the community to volunteer and learn from those around us. I also feel that the program has greatly prepared me for research opportunities, developing programs, and being able to analyze and distribute health information.
What do you consider to be the highlight of your time at the College?
My favorite activity as an undergraduate student was the tabletop exercises in my disaster management classes. We simulated real disaster situations and were assigned different agencies and responsibilities. These activities were quick-paced and at times chaotic but gave excellent insight into how information is disseminated and often lost in emergencies. Another highlight from my time at the College has been working on a systematic literature review on tropical adaptations to climate change alongside Ph.D. Candidate Michelle Ritchie. This project has allowed me to expand my knowledge and dive into a field I had not previously explored.
Do you have any volunteer experiences that were especially meaningful?
I was a student volunteer at the Piedmont Hospital pulmonary wing. Through this opportunity, I was able to learn more about the healthcare industry, as well as the difficulties healthcare workers face daily. I also had the opportunity to volunteer with the UGA Archway Partnership, specifically the Grady County project, for one of my classes. During my time working on this project, I helped with resource assessment and mapping. This was an extremely eye-opening experience because it allowed me to see first-hand the gaps in resources in Georgia communities.
Where will you be undertaking your internship?
For my experiential learning, I will be interning at Project Safe as a Direct Services intern. I am extremely excited to join the team and continue my work in relationship violence prevention and advocacy. The internship will consist of a variety of work, including educational programs, crisis intervention through the Project Safe hotline, advocacy, and work with the Latine community alongside the bilingual advocate.
What activities/achievements/awards during your time here are you most proud of?
I am very proud to be serving as a co-president of the RSVP BeWell Peer Educator group. Helping sexual assault and interpersonal violence survivors and victims is something that I am deeply passionate about. Our student group creates a variety of educational programs for UGA students surrounding relationship and sexual violence. One of my favorite programs was the Red Flags workshop, where we explored red flags in the online dating world. We have also had the opportunity to work with various groups in the Athens community such as Project Safe.
How has the current pandemic impacted your educational experience at UGA and CPH? What insights have you gained as a public health student?
The current pandemic has served as a real-life learning experience for me. When the virus first broke out, we began tracking its progression in some of my classes. This allowed me to see how COVID-19 went from a small outbreak in a province to the pandemic we are currently living in. We also examined responses from different governments and institutions, analyzing the success and failures. As a student interested in global health and disaster management, this pandemic has in many ways taught me what not to do in my future career, and as an individual, it has taught me how to further overcome difficulties. The pandemic also strengthened my desire to pursue a Master of Public Health.
Do you have any external activities that you are passionate about? Are there other unique things you can share about yourself?
Something that I have always been passionate about is art. During the time I spent at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I created a few pieces in honor of my Latin heritage. As an immigrant, art has been a good way to stay connected to my roots. I have also always enjoyed learning new languages. I grew up speaking Spanish and Portuguese and later went on to learn English once I moved to the United States. Over the past few years, I have been working on learning French and hope to one day have some level of mastery over all Romance languages. I hope to use my knowledge of languages in my public health career, specifically to work with the Latin American community both in the U.S. and abroad.
What are your plans after graduation? Has the pandemic shifted your career goals?
After graduation, I will be attending Emory University for the MPH in Global Health program, with a concentration in infectious diseases. My goal is to work in international infectious disease mitigation and response in the future. The pandemic cemented my resolve to pursue this field, as it has become increasingly clear that strong international public health efforts will be invaluable in decades to come.
Posted on April 27, 2021.